Sergey Lavrov: “Our decisions will be based on our national interests”

12:38 22.02.2024 •

Photo: Russian MFA press service

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Brazilian newspaper ‘O Globo’, February 21, 2024.

Question: What role, do you think, should the Group of 20 play today, and what objectives does it have now that Brazil holds its presidency?

Sergey Lavrov: The G20 was originally created as an economic format. The decision to create it was prompted by the deep financial crisis in the United States in 2008. Back then, the world’s largest economies managed to develop effective solutions.

At the same time, it became clear that relying on just one centre of economic power is not a viable approach and most recently the G20 has engaged in a dialogue to reform and to restore the functionality of global economic institutions.

The positive dynamics of this forum are largely attributable to the fact that emerging markets are acting independently and insisting on fair consideration of their interests. The declaration adopted at the 2023 Delhi summit reflects the developing countries’ priorities. The accession of the African Union to the G20 came as a major achievement.

We are positive about Brazil's initiative to convene a G20 ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly.

The agenda of Brazil's presidency in this association is in line with Russia’s plans regarding BRICS, which Russia chairs in 2024. Brazil has invited the New Development Bank to interact with the G20. The focus on overcoming the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals is fully justified. It is important to develop balanced solutions regarding the energy transition, digital transformation, rebuilding supply chains, and ensuring access to energy and food. It is important for the G20 countries to commit to not weaponise the economy and to not engage in unfair competition.

Question: Brazil and Russia are BRICS partners. This group was expanded not long ago to include new countries, such as Iran. How important is BRICS for Russia’s foreign policy and its vision of global geopolitics? Are BRICS countries Russia's main allies today?

Sergey Lavrov: Strengthening the potential and role of BRICS in international affairs is our priority.

BRICS members represent different economic and political systems, religions, and macro-regions and are able to work together as equal partners. Its international standing is steadily growing which can be seen from five more members joining it on January 1. BRICS is a pillar of the multipolar world.

Russia has been chairing BRICS since January 1. The 2024 programme includes over 200 events. We will contribute to the seamless integration of new members into the association's activities.

Question: The special military operation has been going on for two years now. A variety of ways to end the conflict are being discussed, but what is the ultimate goal of the special operation as of the moment?

Sergey Lavrov: The goals and objectives of the special military operation were outlined by President Putin and include the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine and eliminating threats to Russia's security that come from its territory.

The root causes of the Ukraine crisis need to be eliminated if we want to achieve a sustainable and fair settlement. The West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, and Kiev must stop hostilities. Ukraine should reinstate its neutral, non-aligned, and non-nuclear status and ensure the rights and freedoms of its citizens. It is critical that the basis be the new territorial realities and the situation on the ground.

Neither Kiev nor the West demonstrates any sign of political will to settle the conflict. We have no choice but to continue the special military operation until its goals are achieved.

Question: Acting in line with its diplomatic traditions, Brazil has condemned the special military operation, as well as sanctions on Russia and the supply of weapons to Kiev by the United States, among others. The Brazilian President’s top foreign affairs adviser Celso Amorim met with President Putin in Moscow and President Zelensky in Kiev. What’s your take on Brazil's role in bringing an end to the conflict? Can it act as a possible mediator or an aid in talks since it maintains contact with both sides?

Sergey Lavrov: We appreciate Brazil's commitment to promoting a political and diplomatic settlement. In April 2023, Brazilian President Lula da Silva proposed creating a “peace group.” We took Brazil's initiative under advisement.

Russia is open to resolving the conflict peacefully. However, our opponents in Kiev and the West are focused on promoting Zelensky's formula, which contains an unacceptable ultimatum for Russia, and flat out rejects other initiatives, including Brazil's. Before anything else, Kiev must lift its ban on dialogue with Moscow, which it has imposed on itself.

Question: Europe maintains a relative consensus with regard to supporting the Ukrainian government and its relations with the Russian Federation. How do you see future contacts between Moscow and European countries? Do you believe normalising relations is achievable in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: The EU countries have imposed this enmity for Russia on themselves. It is up to them to decide how to go about this choice. Considering Brussels' determination to inflict a “strategic defeat” on us, talking about prospects for restoring relations is beside the point.

If the European countries drop their Russophobic policies and come up with realistic ideas regarding new principles of relations, we will consider them. Our decisions will be based on our national interests.

Question: The United States is at the height of a presidential race, and the main contest is likely to come down to two figures that are well-known in Moscow, President Biden and former President Donald Trump. Some analysts and even officials alluded that President Putin would rather see Donald Trump take the White House office and he may even get his wish in November, after which talks to end the Ukraine conflict could begin. I would like to know what you think about this speculation and ask you if the Kremlin indeed has a preferred candidate?

Sergey Lavrov: The ruling elite of the United States views Russia as an adversary and a threat regardless of party affiliation. The former president did nothing to improve Russia-US relations during his four-year stint in the White House.

We have no illusions and do not expect the anti-Russian course of the United States to change in the foreseeable future. We are prepared to work with any leader who wins the American people’s trust. What matters to us is not specific political figures, but their policies towards Russia. President Putin made that clear recently in his televised interview.


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